Editorial: Standards Are Crucial to Successful Open Data Policies

I recently moderated an event for the National Governors Association at the Harvard Kennedy School. In one session, performance management expert Bob Behn told a group of governors’ chiefs of staff that one of the most basic but often overlooked aspects of an efficient organization is a shared definition of key terms. Simple words can take on significantly different meanings to different people, and if a standard definition for these words is not set, collaboration is stifled by miscommunication.

The idea is that any one piece of information can be constructed in various ways — its operational value depends on a shared understanding. The same holds true for data, which is why standards are crucial to any open data policy. Data standards create a common structure that facilitates information sharing, inter-organizational cooperation and the ability to build on past successes — all important ingredients to driving data-smart innovation.  Continue…